After God said it the discussion began. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought. “That is a CRAZY idea God. I can’t do that. My wife will kill me.” And the thoughts continued coming. It is funny how we tend to think that God is “uninformed” when He asks us to do something.
As Christians we want God to speak to us. We were told the stories of how Moses heard God through a burning bush, how Samuel heard God while lying in the temple, and how Paul’s message came after a blinding light on the road to Damascus.
Speak to us God, we want to hear from you… or at least I think we do. This message was so surprising that it seemed impossible. Come to think of it, many of the messages from God in the Bible seemed impossible to those who first heard it.
When Mary was told that she was with child she said, “How can this be since I have never known a man?”
When Peter was asked to eat the unclean animals in his vision he said, “I have never eaten anything unclean.”
When Jeremiah was told that he had been set apart from birth to be a prophet he said, “But I am only a youth.”
The truth is our God specializes in doing what seems impossible.
Now for the rest of the story.
Gary and I have been friends since the early 90’s. He is about 20 years older than I am but we have always enjoyed spending time together. We go to church together and take the time to eat lunch with one another occasionally. He will call me and say, “Hey we have not eaten together lately so lets go break some bread. What are your plans tomorrow?” We will sit over some salsa and chips and enjoy a little Mexican food or whatever else that either of us have a coupon to eat.
Over the years Gary’s kidneys began to deteriorate. Changes in his diet and new medicines were not enough to compensate for his diminished kidney function. He started dialysis to help his body filter his blood. After a period of time he was approved to go on the national kidney transplant list. Being friends, I followed up with him to see how he was doing and asked him if he had found a donor yet. “No donor yet,” he would say “but they were still searching.”
As sometimes happens to a church staff member, one Sunday it was my job to offer the morning prayer during our worship services. Our people already knew that Gary was searching for a kidney. During the prayer that day I prayed that we would find a kidney for Gary while also praying for other needs in the church and community.
That same day I was talking to Gary in the foyer of the church. I wanted to know how the process was going and if he had found a kidney yet. “No donor match yet but we are still looking,” Gary said.
That’s when God said to me, “You’re a match.” It was not an audible voice but one that was so clear I almost stopped to look around to see if someone else had said it to me. I was so taken back I tried to hide the shock on my face of what I had just heard. I said nothing to anyone as I pondered what I believed God had told me.
For days I kept this to myself till I decided I needed to act on it. God has a way of not letting us forget what He has asked us to do. After all I had prayed for Gary to get a kidney but I had just never imagined it would be mine. How was I going to know if God was speaking or if it was just me talking to myself? I needed God to confirm His message to me.
How can you know if God is speaking or if it is just your imagination?
Over the next six months I went through the process of confirming what I thought God had said to me in the foyer of the church. Here is the process I used. I listed it in the form of three questions to make them easier to follow and understand.
1. Was I open to hear and do what God wants to say to me? This is more than,”do I want to know what God thinks?” The heart of this question revolves around my willingness to do what He has asked me to do. We can’t take God’s promptings as just one of many voices in our lives that we choose to listen to or disregard. It is James who reminds us to “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
Was I open to hear and do what God wanted me to do? Yes. My willingness to answer this question in the affirmative did not come immediately but it did come eventually.
Are you open to doing what God asks you to do? This is the first and most important question.
2. Is what I am hearing consistent with Scripture? God will never ask you to rob a bank to help relieve the stress on your finances. He will not tell you to violate your relationship with your spouse and have an affair with a coworker. He does not support resentment, unbridled anger, revenge or “setting someone straight”. God will not instruct you do something that is contrary to Scripture. He does not change His standards for you or me. He is God and not a man; the Holy one living among us. Hosea 11:9.
When it came to my situation there was no Scripture about giving an organ to a friend. That would have been nice but it did not exist. But I did know that the God who “gave his life as a ransom for all” would support someone sacrificing for another in Scripture. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And I was not giving my life, just a kidney.
When you sense God leading you in a particular direction, is what you are being asked to do consistent with Scripture?
3. What is the opinion of the wise counsel in my life? Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail with no counsel, but with many counselors they succeed.” If God was not in this I wanted nothing to do with it. Giving an organ to someone you love is nice but also involves risk.
How did I seek out wise counsel in this situation?
- I began by going through testing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN to see if I was a match. They tested about every part of my body, along with my medical and family history. After 6 months of testing they approved me as a match for the surgery. It seems God knew I was a match before Vanderbilt did. Ha ha.
- I sought counsel from my Pastor and boss at the time, Daryl Blank.
- I had conversations with my dad and brothers.
- I checked with my life insurance and medical insurance policies to make sure my policies would not become void.
- Most importantly, I got the approval of my wife Amy to proceed with the procedure. It was a process for her to agree to me doing this. We do have four kids and she does want me around for a few more years. (At least most of the time!)
At the end of the six months all of the answers were, “Yes”. God was right. I was a match. It just took us six months to confirm all of it.
On August 19th, the Sunday before the surgery, I was a little apprehensive about the upcoming procedure. During worship that day we were singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and in verse two of that song I got affirmation one more time. The lyrics say, “His word shall not fail you He promised; believe Him and all will be well”.
On August 23rd 2012, my left kidney was removed and placed inside my good friend Gary. Following the surgery that same day I was able to walk down to his room and pay him a little visit. He was sitting up in his chair eating like a king.
It has been more than two years. Both of my kidneys are functioning just fine. That is true for the one in Gary and the one in me.
God was right once again. I was a match, His word did not fail me and all is well.